Glossary – Contemporary Art


  • Acquiescence – agree, consent without complaint
  • Avant-garde – markedly experimental or in advance
  • Aesthetic – study of art, taste etc.   Relating to principles of beauty, taste & art
  • Acrylic – fast drying paint, made from acrylic acid
  • Attributions – wearing away of strength, friction
  • Artefacts – an object made by a human, typically one of cultural or historical interest
  • Aggregate – something formed by adding together several amounts or things
  • Alliteration: – the repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables (wild and woolly)


  • Contemporary – present day, of same age
  • Curatorial – custodian of museum, library etc.
  • Contextual – relating to, dependant on
  • Cosmology – the study of nature and origin of the universe
  • Contiguous – next to or touching another, usually similar, thing
  • Conceptualism – Is art for which the idea (or concept) behind the work is more important than the finished art object.  it emerged as an art movement in the 1960s and the term usually refers to art made from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s


  • Duplicity – deceitfulness, bad faith
  • Disparate – essentially different, unrelated
  • Doctrine – a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party or other group
  • Dialects – a particular form of a language which is peculiar to a specific region or social group
  • Dialectics – the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions
  • Demarcates – set the boundaries or limits of, separate or distinguish from
  • Deconstructivists – Postmodern architecture which appeared in the 1980s, which gives the impression of the fragmentation of the constructed building.  It is characterized by an absence of harmony, continuity or symmetry
  • Dadaists: A movement in art and literature based on deliberate irrationality and negation of traditional values, the art and literature produced by this movement


  • Ethnographic – relating to classification of humans into social, cultural etc. groups
  • Extant – used to refer to something very old that is still existing
  • Existential – of, relating to, or affirming existence
  • Ellipsoid – Closed surface of which all plane cross sections are either ellipses or circles.  An ellipsoid is symmetrical about three mutually perpendicular axes that intersect at the centre
  • Ephermeral: Lasting for a very short time


  • Fine art – art produced for its aesthetic value
  • Fresco – a painting made on a wall whilst the plaster is still wet – mural


  • Gypsum – plaster – composed of calcium sulphate and water


  • Hegomonic – leadership, political domination
  • Homogenous – formed of uniform parts, of the same nature
  • Hellenistic – relating to the history, art, etc of ancient Greece and other countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, especially during the 4th to 1st Century BC


  • Imperialism – majestic, extension of empire
  • Impermanence – concept of time and our existence in time on the earth
  • Inanimate – lacking qualities of living beings, appearing dead
  • Installation art – Mixed-media constructions or assemblages usually designed for a specific place and for a temporary period of time
  • Inextricably: unable to be separated, released, or escaped from


  • Jesmonite –


  • ModernismModernism refers to a global movement in society and culture that from the early decades of the twentieth century sought a new alignment with the experience and values of modern industrial life.  Building on late nineteenth-century precedents, artists around the world used new imagery, materials and techniques to create artworks that they felt better reflected the realities and hopes of modern societies. (accessed

September 9, 2018)

  • Nature morte – dead nature
  • Myriad – a very large number of something
  • Minimalism – An extreme form of abstract art developed in the USA in the 1960s and typified by artworks composed of simple geometric shapes based on the square and the rectangle
  • Materialisation: Leastening our reliance on physical resources


  • Photomontage – technique of producing composite picture by combining several photographs
  • Primitivism – ancient, early undeveloped kind
  • Patronage – support given by a patron
  • Patron – sponsors or aids artists
  • Primordial – from the beginning of time
  • Performance art – An art form that combines visual art with dramatic performance
  • Pithy:  brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression, full of vigor, substance, or meaning, terse
  • PostmodernismPostmodernism can be seen as a reaction against the ideas and values of modernism, as well as a description of the period that followed modernism’s dominance in cultural theory and practice in the early and middle decades of the twentieth century.  The term is associated with skepticism, irony and philosophical critiques of the concepts of universal truths and objective reality

September 9, 2018)


  • Russian non-conformists – A term for art created in the USSR that, until the period of glasnost and perestroika in the 1980s, did not meet official approval and recognition
  • Resonances: The quality of being loud and clear, the production of a sound as a result of vibration of another object


  • Still life – painting of inanimate objects
  • Shamanistic – religion of Northern Asia
  • Site-specific – refers to a work of art designed specifically for a particular location and that has an interrelationship with the location
  • Situationists – Revolutionary alliance of European avant-garde artists, writers and poets formed at a conference in Italy in 1957 – Internationale Situationiste (IS)


  • Totemic – totum symbol worshipped by family/tribe
  • Time-based media – term used to cover sound, video, film, performance & any other media which is duration based
  • Typology – A classification according to general type, especially in archaeology, psychology, or the social sciences, the study and interpret
  • Transient – Lasting for a short time
  • Tableauused to describe a painting or photograph in which characters are arranged for picturesque or dramatic effect and appear absorbed and completely unaware of the existence of the viewer – (September 9, 2018 accessed)


  • VanitasA still life artwork which includes various symbolic objects designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the worthlessness of worldly goods and pleasures – (September 9, 2018 accessed)